Basketball’s Original Rules Have a New Home

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 15th, 2010

Brian Goodman is an RTC editor and contributor.

While Kansas fans get amped for what the immediate future brings when Josh Selby makes his long-awaited debut Saturday, the basketball purists who follow the Jayhawks received some pleasant news regarding the past of its program, and more importantly, the sport as a whole. Last Friday, longtime KU donors David and Suzanne Booth purchased the documents containing James Naismith’s original 13 rules of basketball at a Sotheby’s auction in New York for a cool $4.3 million. The final pricetag shattered the sports memorabilia mark of $3 million for Mark McGwire’s 70th (and now tainted) home run ball from 1998.

Unfortunately, Dr. Naismith's original rules don't address palming the ball or the need for a charge circle.

According to KU officials, the Booths, who donated funds in support of renovations to Allen Fieldhouse over the last five years, are working with the university to develop a plan to display the 119-year-old edition of the game’s rules at Allen Fieldhouse. The main entrance to the facility already houses several artifacts from Jayhawk lore.  Despite inventing the game, Naismith had a losing record as KU’s first head coach, with a 55-60 mark over the program’s first nine seasons. His grandson, Ian, was on hand for the auction as the former owner. He came to the conclusion to part ways with the historic yellowed pages to support the Naismith International Basketball Foundation, which serves to benefit underprivileged children, after the foundation fell on hard times due to the dwindling economy.  The plans for the big-ticket item, once cemented, will steepen Lawrence’s legacy as the birthplace of college basketball.

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